D&H Steel Construction Ltd has become the first New Zealand steel constructor to be awarded an internationally-recognised Quality Assurance accreditation.
Known as AS/NZS ISO 3834, this production management system sets stringent standards for materials traceability and elevates the criteria for welding compliance.
The accreditation follows months of rigorous implementation of control procedures, leading to a final audit and the issuing of a certificate of compliance by the New Zealand verification body, the NZ Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA).
The certificate was presented by HERA director Dr Wolfgang Scholz and Dr Michail Karpenko, manager of HERA’s New Zealand Welding Centre.
Commenting on the significance of D&H Steel’s accreditation, Dr Karpenko said ISO 3834 is compulsory for structural steel fabrication in Europe and, increasingly, it is being specified around the world for major projects.
“The significance is that New Zealand clients now have access to a local structural fabricator who has formally demonstrated the ability to meet international best practice. Customer confidence in the D&H product can be expected to result in more work for the Henderson plant,” Dr Karpenko says.
The unique feature of the ISO 3834 scheme is that accredited companies need to have key staff trained to a high level of competence in welding technology.
In New Zealand and Australia, this will require the appointment of a suitably qualified welding coordinator who takes overall responsibility for all activities relating to welding.
Other personnel will, in turn, take responsibility for clearly allocated tasks as defined in ISO 3834. Not only does the standard insist on material traceability, but the employees undertaking the work must also have their work verified for quality compliance as a matter of record.
In conjunction with HERA, Steel Construction New Zealand (SCNZ) is developing a Steel Construction Accreditation scheme (SCA) that will make sure all accredited fabricators comply with the same standards of quality assurance. The ultimate goal is to certify companies to the internationally recognised ISO 3834.
SCNZ manager Alistair Fussell says the efficiencies that will flow from this will minimise the need for rework, and give customers confidence in steelwork that’s been designed for New Zealand’s seismically active environment.
“It is considered of such importance that we can see the day when, as in Europe, ISO 3834 accreditation will become mandatory. In the meantime, we are finalising our plans for a voluntary accreditation scheme, of which ISO 3834 forms part, to be launched for our members in 2014,” Mr Fussell says.
HERA sees the initiative as common Kiwi sense. HERA director Dr Wolfgang Scholz stresses that a key motivation is safety.
“We have to compete against lower cost steel products imported from, for example, China. By implementing ISO 3834, New Zealand steel construction can assure developers and designers that they are getting safe, reliable structures at a truly competitive cost. And if all suppliers must meet the same stringent quality requirements, everyone is on a level playing field,” Dr Scholz says.
D&H Steel, meanwhile, having become the first New Zealand steel constructor to achieve ISO 3834 accreditation, has undertaken to provide assistance to fellow SCNZ members to achieve the standard.
General manager Wayne Carson says there have been many inter-member discussions regarding quality and quality management, especially following the Christchurch earthquakes.
“Implementation of 3834 is a detailed process and requires a focused effort, but we are willing to pass on what we have learnt to help our peers achieve the same goal.
“What better way to underline our value proposition than by putting quality and reliability at the very centre of what we all do?” Mr Carson says.